A colourful fashion blog supporting independents & sustainable fashion in Bristol and beyond since 2011

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Indies in lockdown - Emotional Waterfall

Has it taken a pandemic to make us re-evaluate our fast paced lives and slow down? Can a big change inspire creativity? 

Colourful, Bristol artist Emotional Waterfall says "Yes!!". 

We catch up with another Bristol creative  - as part of the Indies in Lockdown series -  who has completely submerged herself into her creative work during lockdown.

Colourful Bristol Artist Emotional Waterfall

Emotional Waterfall

Colourful, pattern making queen and fabulous mother of three, Jemma Burnsnell aka Emotional Waterfall is an artist who dabbles in everything creative from art installations to jewellery maker, upcycler, fashion collaborator and interior designer.

Preferring to remain known as an artist first over any other creative label, if Emotional Waterfall can hand paint her signature bright coloured geometrics and abstract brush stroke patterns on it, she will! 

From collaborations with Lucy and Yak, Winifred Rose and Gangster Wraps under her belt alongside handpainted upcycled pieces, 'sell out in seconds' wearable art earrings, wall murals and one woman live art shows at Bristol's Upfest, this is one busy and creative lady. 

So, what's changed during lockdown? How has Emotional Waterfall become even more productive?

Abstract portrait collages by Emotional Waterfall
Abstract portrait collages by Emotional Waterfall

How are you & what has your situation been during lockdown? 

In the beginning I thought 'well that’s it for the way I work', it felt like making and selling ART was a bit pointless considering!
The levels of fear and doom that we were being fed constantly ground everything creative to an abrupt halt and having a family at home was busy for me at first!

I was usually at my studio everyday from school drop till pick up then suddenly I was just at home, a bit confused, in my pjs!

BUT, quickly it became a calm and lovely time to have everyone together and not rush around. I actually found my mind full of ideas and had time to revisit lots of unfinished projects at home that I now had time for. Actual time had no meaning, (there was) no clock watching, no deadlines, we were all together and I felt really peaceful and happy. 

More Love Love More by Emotional Waterfall

How has lockdown affected your business and the way you work? 

This new relaxed vibe led me back into creativity pretty quickly and I set up a temporary work space in my tiny kitchen, where I happily work away with a steady stream of music and children using the toaster or asking when dinner is!

I guess the difference is without the parameters of worrying if I was late for a meeting or school pick up, the flow became a much gentler way of life as an artist at home.

Join the Pattern Party with Emotional Waterfall

Has this time helped your productivity? If yes, how? 

YES is the answer! 

There was a more relaxed vibe from clocking out of life as it previously was and entering a new lockdown at home time.

I had more time to really think about what I wanted to make and I ended up making earrings as I did last summer -  they are a long process of clay, drying, painting, doodling, varnishing and packaging - Such a labour of LOVE! I previously wouldn’t of considered ever making them again as, 

A, I’m not a jewellery maker! I’m a pattern maker. 
And B, I just felt WAY to busy previously to even get into such a slow process again. 

But this way at home I could have a paint brush on the go whilst keeping my eye on dinner and it just worked for me!

Wearable Art Earring shapes by Emotional Waterfall

Have you become more/less inspired in this time?


I think looking back a lot of people hopefully valued the special, slower time we were given - circumstances allowing of obviously - but personally it gave me a chance to really focus and make the best choices going forward with my ART.

Being bolder in those choices I got a really solid plan together to formulate all my best ideas from the past, revisit ideas scribbled in note books, finding old doodles whilst tidying up and pick the best of the best so that emerging from this strange time Emotional Waterfall is exactly what I want it be going forward.

It’s always been my own special universe to exist in anyway in essence, that’s how it came to be anyway and I think for artists it pretty much how we live most of the time lockdown or not!

I had time to think about what worked, what didn’t and what positive joy I really want to say through my art going forward.

Recycling Joy by Emotional Waterfall

What's next for Emotional Waterfall? 

The website and shop are the main things, along with some other secret stuff!

I’m very easily distracted especially being at home, so this has been a while on the table but I’ve had time to actually write and take photos for the online shop. 

I’m really excited to have this new phase almost ready to launch and to welcome everyone into the universe of EMOTIONAL WATERFALL x

Follow Emotional Waterfall on Instagram and hold tight for the launch of the new website and online shop! 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Indies in Lockdown - Dakota Rae Dust

How have indie creatives coped during lockdown? 

Following our initial blog post where we found out that a change -  or in this case, a pandemic  - can inspire creativity, we have also learnt how courageous and adaptable indie makers and businesses have been during lockdown.

Overwhelmed by the heartfelt responses from some of my favourite indie makers and designers, we shall continue the Indies in Lockdown blog series profiling each creative with a full interview whilst showcasing some of the pieces that they have been working on during this time. 

Dakota Rae Dust

The first indie designer profile features the fabulous, colourful statement jewellery maker Bec Denton, founder of Dakota Rae Dust. During lockdown Bec has had to put her new collections on hold and adapt to a new way of working from her home studio, here in Bristol. Bec is also missing selling at markets and the beloved festival season. 

NEW Turquoise fringe, bib necklace £42
NEW Turquoise fringe, bib necklace £42 by Dakota Rae Dust

How are you & what has your situation been during lockdown? 

I'm well thanks, feeling much better after my first trip to a friend's garden last week! My partner received a letter advising him to shield due to an existing health condition so we have both been working from home in our one bed attic flat during lockdown!

I already work from home, so no big upheaval for me but my partner set up office in the bedroom and during the first few weeks of lockdown he was also running two 3D printers in there, printing PPE visors! 

We don't have a garden, which we were cursing during the sunny weather but the flexibility that our work has offered us and the support from friends and family, with food shopping, has left us feeling very lucky.

Indie maker Bec Denton with a pair of Dakota Rae Dust statement tassel earrings

How has lockdown affected your business and the way you work? 

Since starting my business I have relied heavily on markets, festivals and in person selling to spread awareness of my work. When the reality of a summer without any events first dawned on me, I have to admit, I felt pretty panic stricken, but lots of amazing event organisers and fellow makers sprung into action with virtual alternatives which have been a real help. 

I have traded with Bristol Markets and Makers Bazaar Fair (on instagram) they have definitely proven to be an effective way to reach potential new customers from my sofa - which is a win -  but I am really missing all the amazing market food and contact with fellow makers and customers. 

Access to equipment has been a bit of a problem. I usually take a bus across town to use a friend's heat press and occasionally the laser cutter at KWMC The Factory but shielding meant this was much trickier.

I have delayed launching any new designs for now, focusing instead on new colourways of existing styles that I can produce at home. Excitingly, this should be changing imminently. 


Has this time helped your productivity? If yes, how? 

Ermmm! Not exactly, I've definitely found it tricky to stay motivated without the regular deadlines that trading at markets provides and the usual contact with friends and fellow makers.....I realised early on that I'm not a big fan of Zoom!!   

Since postponing working on anything new, having to rely on existing designs has allowed me some extra time to streamline my production and make products in small batches which I am usually too disorganised to enforce. This has definitely been a positive outcome of the last few months. I still haven't managed to tidy my desk though Haha!

A selection of oversize jazzy plectrum earrings, available with OR without tassels

Have you become more/less inspired in this time?

BOTH. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster!

At times I've focused solely on the very practical side of the business only, getting orders out and keeping accounts up to date, with no motivation for designing, or coming up with creative ways to tackle the coming months. 

Once I made the decision about delaying the launch of any new designs and freed up some time to play around with colours and fabrics I started to feel much more inspired. I'm very keen to get prototyping now. Autumn, maybe even the end of the Summer, should be bringing lots of exciting new things! 

All my textile jewellery is inspired by and includes some vintage, recycled or secondhand fabrics. Many of my pieces feature components cut from textile off-cuts and waste materials donated by fellow makers as well as smaller scraps left over from my own larger projects.

features three vintage fabrics in florals and plains. The vintage floral fabric used in the large teardrop earring components was once a bedspread! Worn and well loved, it has been repurposed in these playful earrings(below).

What's next for Dakota Rae Dust? 

I'm interested to see how plans for markets opening up again will progress in the coming months. I really hope to be loading my pegboards with statement tassels and catching up with customers again soon. 

I committed to a website upgrade earlier this year (before I had any idea about what was about to happen with Covid) and after initial fears over whether it was the right time to be spending money, I'm now feeling confident that, especially in the current climate, this was a good call. 

A slick online presence and shopping experience feels more important than ever while I am relying so much on virtual trading and marketing via social media. I'm still getting to grips with the new site and uploading products but keen to get everything up and running asap! 

For some sneak previews and news on when the new Dakota Rae Dust website launch sign up to the newsletter 


Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Indies in Lockdown - Has the pandemic inspired creativity?

We are all guilty pf putting a smiley face on our social media profiles, keeping calm and carrying on but what has life really been like for creatives and small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic?? 

As a creative, I have had my own experiences and became very interested in how other indie creatives, including designers, artists and makers, have coped during their time in lockdown. 

We have all had to change the way we work but has the pandemic actually helped inspire creativity for some of us or left us overwhelmed with no focus or drive?

Have we got so used to the new normal that we want to stay in lockdown? What have we enjoyed about this (slightly unorthodox) time out? Has it made us rethink the way we work? 

As lockdown eases, we are all considering our futures in this new world. For some of us the easing has caused a wave of great excitement, others are feeling more cautious and unsure of what is to come. However it has affected you, we can be sure we have all been in it together!

After reaching out to a few of my favourite independent makers, designers and artists to chat about their experiences,  I have been overwhelmed with a heartfelt and completely honest response. 

What was to be a blog post featuring indie creatives experiences, will now, I'm happy to say, become a blog mini series, showcasing many independent designers work, sharing their experiences during the pandemic and their hopes and inspirations for the future. 

Today we will look at comparisons in the experiences discussed (so far) with these fabulous and courageous indie businesses who have kept going throughout the pandemic.

Gull Power! T-shirts by Hello Dodo

There have been mixed feelings from our indie businesses, each one putting positive spins on an overwhelming and life changing situation, that not only effects the way we live our lives, run our businesses but on a larger scale, our well-being and mental health too.

Whether they have been shielding, moved back to a family home, found themselves working in a house full of kids or continued working from home, lockdown has affected us all, albeit in different ways. 

"We’ve been pretty fortunate during lockdown," says Brighton based, indie t-shirt brand Hello Dodo. "We run Hello Dodo from home, screen printing and packing orders from our little studio at the end of our garden". 

This sounds peachy but Hello Dodo designers Ali and Jam confess. "Working this way has allowed us to pretty much become hermits though!  Now that lockdown is easing we have to overcome quite a lot of social anxiety or risk becoming total recluses!". 

Ali and Jam from Hello Dodo

Joking aside, the easing of lockdown does seem to fill many of us with dread rather than excitement, with the anxiety of what's to come being a predominant concern. 

Designer Lulu Harrison relocated from Bristol to her family home in London when it became quite clear that her super fun, upcycling fashion brand Balulu had to stop production from India during the pandemic. 

"It's been really tough on the business" confesses Lulu, "We haven’t been able to get any of our new stock as India went into even stricter lockdown than the UK, and particularly Varanasi which is where my clothes are made".

"I think this whole pandemic has not only had a hit on businesses, but also on people’s mental health which I can say from first hand experience".

Lulu Harrison designer at Balulu 

With many makers, especially in the fashion industry relying on markets, shops and festivals to provide much of their annual profit, we have seen a severe drop in morale as makers and traders loose their motivation to create and sell. 

"I rely heavily on markets, festivals and in person selling to spread awareness of my work", says festival jewellery maker and upcycler Bec Denton from Dakota Rae Dust.

"When the reality of a summer without any events first dawned on me, I have to admit, I felt pretty panic stricken and I'm missing all the contact with fellow makers and my customers! I've definitely found it tricky to stay motivated without the regular deadlines that trading at markets provides". 

On a positive side to the closure of the shops and markets, every business has noticed and taken advantage of the shift from customers popping to the shops to a rise in online shopping. Weekly virtual markets have also been popping up on Instagram over the past few months and gaining many followers. 

Dakota Rae Dust designer and maker Bec Denton

"Lots of amazing event organisers and fellow makers sprung into action with virtual alternatives which have been a real help" explains Bec Denton.  

"I have traded with Bristol Markets and Makers Bazaar Fair on instagram, they have definitely proven to be an effective way to reach potential new customers!". 

Many makers have seen a rise in sales on their websites and through these virtual markets, which has been a real positive,  as many independent shops have also moved online sharing their virtual space with independent businesses. 

Since her production came to a sudden halt Balulu's, Lulu Harrison has had more time to work on her online presence, "So many people have turned to the internet to buy and we have benefited from that", admits says Lulu. 

"I had one box of Balulu clothes delivered before the world went into lockdown and, to be fair, everything sold out pretty quickly online, which was amazing!"

Many makers and businesses of all sizes have struggled to update their stock as their outside suppliers have been forced to close during lockdown; from sourcing plain t-shirts for printing to components for jewellery, to all your new stock being held back, like Balulu. 

This has been a time for many to begin to adapt the way they had previously worked, by making use of the stock they currently have available.

Elin Horgan Jewellery designer

Elin Horgan creates beautiful handmade silver jewellery pieces in Bristol and became inspired to design her new Shapes & Spheres collection after realising she couldn't get new stock from her regular suppliers. 

"I wanted to challenge myself to make some pieces by using materials I already had by re-purposing and recycling my scrap silver where possible". says Elin. 

"Shapes & Spheres is a collection of one-off pieces and is now available to buy on my website! I love the fact that each piece is totally unique and won't be made again!". 

Recycled silver jewellery from Elin Horgan's Shapes and Spheres collection

With the pros and cons of productivity changing from one business to the next, every business confesses it has not been easy to remain motivated. 

Some, like myself felt a drive to remain super productive at the start of lockdown only to see the enthusiasm come crashing down around them in a wall of anxiety and stress as reality sunk in. Whilst others, like Hello Dodo, felt overwhelmed from the beginning of lockdown and adapted to their new situation by using productivity as a distraction. 

"Being productive and creative has been the best distraction for us", say Hello Dodo. "Right now it feels like our inspiration is returning, like the stress was holding it back and now the floodgates have been opened!".

Struggling to find time to fit her business in whilst adapting to her new home life (spending every day with her WFH husband and two kids) Elin Horgan has found her new situation has made her more efficient. 

"Having less time actually makes me more productive as there are far fewer opportunities for faffing about.  There's definitely a lot of evening and weekend work (and not very much homeschooling) going on at the moment!", says Elin. 

Coral fringe handmade geometric earrings by Dakota Rae Dust

One thing that everyone in the fashion industry has missed is the face to face contact with their customers, fellow makers, suppliers and friends. 

Although we may not even be aware of it, venturing out and having regular contact and interactions with actual people, offers large quantities of inspiration and motivation. Lately, we have all been neglected of both!

"I can’t really say lockdown has helped my productivity". confesses Lulu Harrison. "I definitely started off trying to keep super motivated and coming up with new ideas, but as time has gone on the business has been hit harder and it’s been hard to stay positive about it.

"A friend inspired me to enter a competition, update the website and make a promo video for Balulu. I think I needed that push from someone else to keep me motivated and generate fresh ideas". 

It has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone and as we begin to adapt to these waves of creativity and productivity, we can accept that we can adapt and start looking to the future. 

With all of our makers launching new collections and ranges in the upcoming months, collaborations are being made and even a masters at Central Saint Martins college on the cards for Balulu's Lulu Harrison, things are certainly looking up. Sometimes a change is good, even if we have to go through extreme hell to get there! You got this indie makers! 

The full interviews with all of our amazing indie business contributors will be popping up on the No Debutante blog over the next few weeks, with more indie businesses joining them! 

Thank you, big hugs and a masses of good luck to everyone involved in this blog post including the fabulous Ali and Jam from Hello Dodo, Lulu Harrison from Balulu, Bec Denton from Dakota Rae Dust and Elin Horgan Jewellery! You are all an inspiration! 

Main image courtesy of Balulu

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